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Jerome Champagne Enters FIFA Presidential Contest

FILE - FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne is seen speaking to the media in London in a Jan. 20, 2014, photo.
FILE - FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne is seen speaking to the media in London in a Jan. 20, 2014, photo.

This time, Jerome Champagne has officially entered the FIFA presidential election race.

“I sent my application letter and eight nomination letters to FIFA on Monday night,” Champagne, a French former diplomat, told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of launching his bid for football's top job on Friday.

“It's an exciting mission,” said the onetime FIFA international relations director, who has sent a 7-page manifesto to FIFA's 209 member federations.

Champagne's detailed document includes plans to modernize how the embattled governing body is run, fight inequality - including cuts to European places at FIFA and the World Cup - and to trial the use of video review to help referees.

Champagne campaigned for the previous election, won in May by his former boss and ally Sepp Blatter, but did not get the required backing of five members to be a candidate.

He now joins Michel Platini, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and David Nakhid, a former Trinidad and Tobago player, in meeting Monday's deadline to apply for the February 26 emergency election. More contenders are set to stand.

Platini approval in question

Platini, who helped force Champagne's exit from FIFA in 2010, is suspended by the FIFA ethics committee and unlikely to be accepted as a candidate. The UEFA president is appealing against his ban for taking a $2 million salary payment nine years after he worked as Blatter's personal adviser.

Blatter, who is also suspended for paying Platini from FIFA funds in 2011, called the election amid a deepening corruption crisis in June. He announced his planned exit just four days after winning re-election despite FIFA then being subject to American and Swiss criminal investigations of bribery and suspected money-laundering.

Champagne gets a second chance to lead FIFA because of the scandals.

“The difference is all that has happened since May 27,” he said, recalling the day two FIFA vice presidents were among seven officials arrested in Zurich and FIFA offices were raided for evidence.

“(Voters) want someone who knows how FIFA functions - for the good and for the bad,” said Champagne, who was not linked to personal corruption during and since his 11 years working at FIFA. “It's a unique opportunity to restore FIFA and to continue what has been done correctly in 111 years.”